National Organization for Marriage plots course in gay marriage debate

Brian Brown has as much of a background – and as much at stake – in the ongoing debate over gay marriage as anyone. Brown is the executive director of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) which strongly advocates in favor of traditional marriage. NOM has a noticeable television advertising presence in states where gay marriage is an issue and flexes its political muscle with legislators and voters alike. Brown discussed a wide range of gay marriage-related topics with Everyday Christian including future battlegrounds and counter-arguments to gay marriage proponents. D.C., Maine hot button issues Washington, D.C. will likely need a referendum for gay marriage opponents to block it from becoming the law in the nation’s capital. On Tuesday, D.C. Superior Court judge Judith Retchin dismissed a motion designed to block the recognition of out-of-state gay marriages as approved by the D.C. Council in May. Congress, which has ultimate jurisdiction over the move, is not expected to oppose it and let it become law July 6th. The next step for opponents, led by Bishop Harry Jackson and the Stand 4 Marriage D.C. group, will be to push for a referendum similar to California’s Proposition 8 which strictly defined legal marriage as between one and one woman. Retchin also upheld a decision by the D.C. election board that the gay marriage issue was not a valid subject for a ballot question because it violated the District’s Human Rights Act. Jackson said Tuesday his group will file with the Board of Elections and Ethics to try and get a ballot initiative off the ground. Gay D.C. Councilman David Catania hailed the decision as a victory. He is the leading advocate on the council pushing to legalize gay marriage and said the decision as important precursor in that effort. Brown countered that his hope was after expected litigation that a ballot initiative could be in place for November 2010. “It’s unfortunate the Board of Elections doesn’t want to extend the right to vote on such an important issue,” Brown said. The symbolism of D.C. approving gay marriage would be a powerful feather in the cap of gay marriage advocates, yet another immediate and more significant dispute is brewing in Maine. Signatures are being gathered as part of a people’s veto to force a referendum on the legislature’s decision to approve gay marriage in May. A vote could come as early as November. Brown disputed press accounts elsewhere which stated gay marriages can begin in Maine come September and acknowledged the national impact Maine will have in shaping the debate. Maine is sixth state to approve gay marriage and the third New England state, joining New Hampshire and Vermont, to do so since the beginning of 2009. “There’s no doubt Maine is a critical state to focus on right now,” Brown said. “As an organization we want to help the people there push the process along as best as possible. The most important thing to keep in mind is that same-sex marriage cannot go forward as long as long as there are enough signatures on the petitions.” The upholding of Proposition 8 by the California Supreme Court earlier this year and the approval of gay marriage by the Iowa Supreme Court has helped boost support for traditional marriage in Maine and elsewhere, Brown said. “I think the victory in California and the loss in Iowa from the standpoint that the voters didn’t have a say makes a big difference,” he said. “It creates a level of motivation that is helpful.” Challenges to Proposition 8 The national specter of Maine’s vote will be familiar territory for Brown. NOM was active in fundraising and advocacy in California in the run-up to the victory of Proposition 8. Brown said California was instructional in building a coalition of support across cultural and political lines. “We had people tell us that there was no way we could go into California and win, that it was way too liberal of a state,” Brown said. “The common assumption is that this is a typical left vs. right issue and it’s not. We had a large majority of African-Americans and Hispanics who voted with us in California which also voted heavily Democratic. This is an issue we can prove to people as preposterous if we can get the information to the voters.” Currently Proposition 8 is being challenged by a gay couple in federal district court in San Francisco represented by Theodore Olson and David Boies. Olson and Boies respectively represented George W. Bush and Al Gore in the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case that decided the disputed 2000 Presidential election. Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said Tuesday he would not suspend Prop 8 enforcement while the case was being litigated, pointing to the serious nature of the impact it could have and the ambiguity it could inject into the law. “The arguments being presented in the case are not new,” Brown said. “Many gay rights groups are not all that enthusiastic about because of the possibility that in one fell swoop you could have the (federal) Defense of Marriage Act upheld and gay marriage limited by the (U..S.) Supreme Court. Considering the current makeup of the court, that would seem likely if the case got that far.” Civil rights issue The coalition of African-American pastors in D.C. opposed to gay marriage and the demographics for the California vote help trump the notion that it is a civil rights issue, Brown said. “The argument the other side makes is that if you’re opposed to same-sex marriage then you are against civil rights and therefore are a bigot is false,” Brown said. “It’s a not a civil right to redefine what marriage is. If you say that the relationship between a man and a man and woman and a woman is the same as a man and a woman, it’s just not true. “Husbands and wives bring so many obvious things to the table in terms of relationships and parenting. There is a huge difference. … In trying to define this as a civil rights issue, this is why you have African-American pastors and people who were actually involved in the civil rights movement standing up and saying not to cheapen the legacy of struggle they led by lumping this in as a civil rights issue.” The fact that Christian leaders are part of multicultural opposition is not an accident, Brown added. “When you think about freeing people from slavery going all the way back to William Wilberforce and abolitionism all the way down to Martin Luther King and the deep-seeded belief in the relationship between God and man, you can’t compare that to the concept of same-sex marriage.” Religious, secular arguments against gay marriage Brown said for traditional marriage advocates to get their point across appeals must be made on religious and secular levels alike. Making those arguments on a religious level is easier, he acknowledged, regardless of the faith. “We represent many different religious faiths,” Brown said. “We work hard to address multiple faiths. Same-sex marriage is an issue that doesn’t register across a number of different theologies. “If you believe there are two halves of humanity created to address what children need within a family that means a mother and a father. If you take religion out of the argument, even atheists understand that a man and a woman raising children is not the same as a man and a man or a woman and a woman.” That is where, too, the issues of social impact come into play if, for example, a business or a religious organization doesn’t want to participate in a gay wedding and fears being sued over it, Brown said. Concerns about how gay marriage is addressed in public schools and how family related issues are dealt with in the public arena are paramount, he added. Brown pointed to Massachusetts, which recently marked five years as being the first state in the nation to legally recognize gay marriage. “(In March 2006) you had Catholic Charities, one of the oldest and most venerable organizations in the state, stopping its adoption services because it refused to let gay couples adopt. This wasn’t on religious grounds, this was because the state said it was violating civil rights by making that choice. “You had a faith-based organization doing good work for a long time shutting its doors on this issue because it was viewed as discrimination when it made a choice based on its principles. These are the types of issues we’re facing if we just let this go.” Links: National Organization for Marriage: http://www.nationformarriage.org/ Court dismisses D.C. vote on gay marriage: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/local/49549167.html Federal judge taking long look at Prop 8: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/07/01/BANM18GRLU.DTL&feed=rss.gay

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  1. AndreasLights said:

    Mr. Elliot, Your article is fair and insightful, and thank you for not using quotation marks around the word marriage. The only way Brian Brown can have anything at stake in the ongoing debate over gay marriage is if he were himself interested in having his own same-sex marriage. This debate IS about civil rights. African-American spiritual leaders LESSEN the significance of the struggle of their own people by failing to “pay it forward” to the next group of disenfranchised people currently being discriminated against by American Society. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be out there fighting for gay rights if he were alive today. A gay man and close friend to MLK,Jr., Bayard Rustin, conceived, planned and executed the March on Washington that provided a venue for the “I have a dream” speech. AGREED, having a mother and a father, happily married and cohabitating while their own children are raised is an ideal situation. But it is not the only one. Plenty of single parents raise healthy, well-adjusted and contributing members of society. Same-sex parent couples are just as capable of doing the same, and all these alternatives are better than a child rotting in an orphanage or an embryo being destroyed. It would be great if everyone used their right hands to write, but that doesn’t mean we should, as has been done in the past, refuse to allow people to write with their left hand, if that is what comes natural to them. Finally, the argument that same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy (or bestiality, although not mentioned here) is ridiculous because Mormons have a long history of polygamy. Same-sex couples want to be able to enjoy the Equal Protection guaranteed by the CIVIL document called the U.S. Constitution. Civil rights must trump religious beliefs. That’s what led to the end of slavery, women getting the right to vote and equal partnership in marriage, etc. etc. etc. Thank you

    July 2, 2009
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  2. rlussier said:

    As a Christian, I feel that Brian Brown is not speaking for me. My faith is Unitarian Universalist, and we believe that all of Christ’s children should be allowed to be married in our church, but Mr. Brown is attempting to force government to interfere with our free practice of our religion. Mr. Brown, get out of the affairs of our church and allows us to follow our faith. We practice what Christ taught… love everyone as yourself. Your fight against loving relationships has Satan’s hoofprints all over it.

    July 2, 2009
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  3. TrueFred said:

    @AndreasLights I’ll open my response with a quote from “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” written by Dr. King: “A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of Saint Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.” http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html By “law of God, King meant the Bible. Hence, he would NOT support same-sex “marriage” laws because they don’t square with the Bible. King would defend his position with passages like the following: “Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.” 1 Timothy 1:8-10 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5and said,(H) ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and(I) the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” -Matthew 19:1-9 Hence, King supporting homosexual “marriage” laws would be as hypocritical as him supporting racist Jim Crow laws, which also were unbiblical.

    July 3, 2009
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  4. rlussier said:

    It’s all well and good for a stranger to put words into Rev. King’s mouth. I could do the same. But the fact is that Rev. King chose Bayard Rustin, an openly gay man, to organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the 1963 March on Washington. And his wife, who knew him better than anyone, has said that he would support equal rights for gay people as a civil rights issue. God created all creatures, both straight and gay. And it is not just creatures who He gifted with free choice and souls who are gay… so are many of His creatures. This cannot be disputed. It is easy to twist the bible to justify hatred… it’s done all of the time. And it was done during the days of slavery to justify that black people were inferior. (Google “Noah’s curse”.) But God’s message of love for all shines through, and will win out in the end. Yes, we should fight to make divorce illegal in the United States. It’s clearly against the teachings of the bible. This does not have anything to do with stopping our gay brethren from entering into loving and holy marriages.

    July 3, 2009
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  5. TrueFred said:

    “It’s all well and good for a stranger to put words into Rev. King’s mouth. I could do the same. But the fact is that Rev. King chose Bayard Rustin, an openly gay man, to organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the 1963 March on Washington.” Don’t confuse King befriending Rustin with him condoning his lifestyle. King also worked alongside atheists who opposed Jim Crow. But King would still lament how those atheist were doomed to Hell unless they let go of their unbelief and were saved through Jesus Christ. Similarly, it wouldn’t shock me if King prayed that Rustin would repent of his lifestyle and be saved through Christ. Put another way King would have been truly hateful by lying to Rustin that his lifestyle like atheism would have no negative eternal consequences. Thus, as Christ Himself demonstrated, Christians should be friends with unbelievers, homosexuals included, while telling the truth in love that their friends’ lifestyles will lead to their doom unless they are saved. “And his wife, who knew him better than anyone, has said that he would support equal rights for gay people as a civil rights issue.” Not necessarily. You wouldn’t believe how many issues wives and husbands disagree on. “It is easy to twist the bible to justify hatred… it’s done all of the time.” That was demonstrated by White slaveowners who said that anti-slavery Christians like Frederick Douglas where “twisting the Bible” as he denounced their sinful trade. Homosexual activists are much like slave owners in that way. This is no surprise since we ALL try to ignore those parts of the Bible which show the depths of our sins (sexual, financial, etc.) and our need for Christ as our Savior.

    July 4, 2009
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  6. TrueFred said:

    @ rlussier Here’s another excerpt from King’s “Letter” that I want you to reflect on “There was a time when the church was very powerful in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often even vocal sanction of things as they are. But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.” So, is your church a thermometer who just go with the latest culture changes and fads? Or is it a thermostat which stands on God’s Word no matter the level of mocking or “political incorrectness” in order to change the surrounding culture for the better?

    July 4, 2009
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  7. shadow_man said:

    TrueFred: You might want to learn your Bible before taking it out of context to condone your bigotry, as well as learn your history. The people of the past twisted the Bible to condone slavery and racism using this line: Genesis 9:25 “And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren” The passage you mentioned is talking about heterosexual marriage and divorces, not homosexual marriage. You literally inserted words into God’s mouth to condone your bigotry. There is no condemnation of homosexual marriage there. You bring up 1 Timothy 1:8-10. Let us examine this line properly. Timothy 1:8-10 Paul lists types of people who need to hear the law. His list includes “arsenokoitai.” Again, it is significant that Paul did not use the Greek word “arrenokoites” which would have easily been understood to condemn all adult male same sex partners, had that been his intent. Evidently, it was not his intent. Homosexual relationships were known in the Greco-Roman culture of Paul’s day. The Greek word commonly used in reference to adult male same sex partners was “arrenokoites.” Paul did not use this word. Instead, he created his own, “arsenokoitai.” If Paul had intended to condemn all adult male same sex partners, he would have used the common word for it.

    July 4, 2009
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  8. shadow_man said:

    test

    July 4, 2009
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  9. 1234aussie said:

    I note with disgust the gooooole and google adds trying to cash in on such a serious discussion. The u.s.a. has been warned that the people will serve GOD or be swept off the land. If this moral fight is lost then all will suffer.Polygamy abortion homo “marriage” woman in the Priesthood are all evil. Sitting here in Australia makes it easier to be honest, I have sent my donations my e-mails and on the 5th July my prays for victory.

    July 4, 2009
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  10. rlussier said:

    Doesn’t it bother anyone that there are some out there trying to keep a christian church from practicing its faith? The Unitatian Universalists believe as part of our faith that discrimination is against God’s will, and we have been wanting to marry loving gay couples since even before this issue reached the national stage. One of the founding principles of this country is Freedom of Religion, and it really bothers me that some forces are manipulating the State to take this freedom away.

    July 4, 2009
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